There’s no reason you can’t review a book with class and professionalism. A book review is a description, judicious analysis, and an evaluation of the quality, gist, and impact of a book. It’s so important to realize . . . a book review is not a retelling. It’s not a book report or a summary.
A book review should focus on the book's purpose and content. How did the book affect you – the reader? You should evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the how well the author told his/her story. Your review should include a statement of what the author has tried to do, evaluate how well he/she has succeeded, and present evidence to support your appraisal.
There’s no right or wrong way to write a book review. Face it, book reviews are highly personal and reflect the opinion(s) of the reviewer. Your review can be as short as 50-100 words, or as long as 1500 words, depending on the purpose of the review.
I might add a personal note here – “If you can’t say something nice, maybe it’s best left unsaid in public.” If you truly dislike a book, that’s okay, not every book we read will be our favorite. But chastising a book in a review could make or break an author. Is that your intent? I would hope not. If I don’t care for a book I’ve read, I let it go. It’s not necessary to berate or trash the book or the author.
The following is a simple guide for writing a book review that works.
1. Write a statement including basic information about the book: title, author, type of book.
2. Write a sentence indicating point of view and genre.
3. Evaluate the quality of the writing style by using some of the following standards: consistency, clarity, creativity, strength, pithiness, development, and even fluidity.
4. Ask yourself does the story reach the intended audience?
5. To me the most important question to ask yourself – then review from your heart – “how did this book affect me?” Did you have preconceived notions about the subject matter and now they’ve changed or perhaps they’re reinforced due to this book?
6. Did the book realize its goal(s)?
7. End your review with the oh-so-important, ‘would you recommend this book to others’? Why?
Remember, your review should include a brief summary, analysis, and comment on the book’s content. Include your general conclusions. If you feel strongly to make a statement, use specific references and quotations to support them. And always end with a comment of support and referral.